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What is Yoga

Author: Bala Mishra | Last Updated: Fri 23 Sep 2011 4:20:42 PM

Yoga, Bikram Yoga, Hot Yoga

By Bala Mishra

The word Yoga originates from the Sanskrit word "Yuj" meaning to yoke, join or unite. This means joining or integrating all aspects of the individual - body with mind and mind with soul - to achieve a happy, healthy, balanced and useful life whereby spiritually, uniting an individual with the Supreme.

The origin of yoga is believed to be very old, stemming from the oral traditions of Yogis, where knowledge of Yoga was handed down from Guru (spiritual teacher) to Sisya (spiritual student) .It was "the Rishis," who first began investigation into the nature of reality and man's inner world. Yoga is thus a discipline that when followed frees the soul from the evils of the material world bringing in spiritual bliss and peace.

Legend has it that knowledge of Yoga was first passed by Lord Shiva to his wife Parvati and from there into the lives of men. Reference to Yoga is made in the most ancient Indian literature like the Vedas and the Upanishads that delve into the philosophical world of mans soul.

Today Yoga for many is a scientific system of physical and mental practices and its purpose is to help each one of us achieve our highest potential and to experience enduring health and happiness. With Yoga, we can extend our healthy, productive years far beyond the accepted norm and, at the same time; improve the quality of our lives.

The whole system of Yoga is built on three main structures: exercise, breathing, and meditation. The exercises of Yoga are designed to put pressure on the glandular systems of the body, thereby increasing its efficiency and total health. The body is looked upon as the primary instrument that enables us to work and evolve in the world, and so a Yoga student treats it with great care and respect. Breathing techniques are based on the concept that breath is the source of life in the body. The Yoga student gently increases breath control to improve the health and function of both body and mind. These two systems of exercise and breathing then prepare the body and mind for meditation, and the student finds an easy approach to a quiet mind that allows silence and healing from everyday stress. Regular daily practice of all three parts of this structure of Yoga produce a clear, bright mind and a strong, capable body.

Types of Yoga

There are over a hundred different schools of Yoga. Some of the most well known are described below:

Hatha Yoga: The physical movements and postures, plus breathing techniques. This is what most people associate with Yoga practice.

Raja Yoga: Called the “royal road,” because it incorporates exercise and breathing practice with meditation and study, producing a well-rounded individual.

Jnana Yoga: The path of wisdom; considered the most difficult path.

Bhakti Yoga: The practice of extreme devotion in one-pointed concentration upon one’s concept of God.

Karma Yoga: All movement, all work of any kind is done with the mind centered on a personal concept of God.

Tantra Yoga: A way of showing the unseen consciousness in form through specific words, diagrams, and movements. One of the diagrams that is used to show the joining of the physical and spiritual bodies is two triangles superimposed upon one another. The downward-pointing triangle represents the physical body, or the female aspect having to do with work, action, and movement; the upward-pointing triangle represents the spiritual body of support, energy, and vastness.

Kashmir Shaivism: This Yoga system states that everything in the universe has both male and female qualities. In Kashmir Shaivism, these male and female principles form an equal partnership, so interdependent that they cannot be separated. The attraction between them produces the ultimate union of opposites, creating the immense complexity of the universe that we enjoy and celebrate. Unlike other philosophies, Kashmir Shaivism is based in emotion rather than intellect. In fact, Shaivism says that intellectual understanding by itself will never lead us to the realization of the summit of Yoga. The system's great exponents teach that the egotistical intellect blocks our ability to fully experience our individual power.

Yoga & Its Connection with Religion

The core of Yoga’s philosophy is that everything is supplied from within the individual. Thus, there is no dependence on an external figure, either in the sense of a person or god figure, or a religious organization. However, religion and Yoga work on the same belief that God lies within. The body is a temple, the soul or ‘Aatma ‘rests in it. It is mans duty to keep the soul divine, to keep the soul clean.

The common belief that Yoga derives from Hinduism is a misconception. Yoga actually predates Hinduism by many centuries. Ancient seals unearthed in the Indus Valley provide clear evidence of widespread Yoga practice earlier than 3,000 B.C.E. The techniques of Yoga have been adopted by Hinduism as well as by other world religions. Yoga is a system of techniques that can be used for a number of goals, from simply managing stress better, learning to relax, and increasing limberness all the way to becoming more self-aware and acquiring the deepest knowledge of one’s own self.

The practice of Yoga will not interfere with any religion. Many American Yoga Association students who have practiced Yoga intensively for many years continue to follow the religious traditions they have grown up in or adopted without conflict.

The Practice of Yoga

Yoga is suitable for most adults of any age or physical condition. Because of the no strenuous nature of our approach to exercise, even those with physical limitations can find a beneficial routine of Yoga. Our "Easy Does it Yoga" program offers special techniques for those with physical limitations due to age, illness, injury, substance abuse recovery, obesity, or inactivity.

Astrocamp .com has for years now dedicated itself to share with the world the secrets of ancient Indian beliefs. Yoga an ancient Indian science had lost its significance with time. This ancient science of health and spiritual well being has immense significance in todays stressful life. We have everything available and still in pursuit of peace, health and well being. Yoga helps you achieve this state of well being. This is where we come to guide you through the cluster of information about Yoga and give you what is relevant that too in a systematic way, so that you can reap maximum benefits from The Science of Yoga. From time to time we will keep updating you about everything you need to know about Yoga. Let’s start our journey in the path of spiritual and physical well being. Wish you luck.
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